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ROF Lecture: Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household

  • The General Society Library 20 West 44th Street New York, NY, 10036 United States (map)
The Music Party, Philip Mercier, 1733 ©National Portrait Gallery, London.jpg

Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household

Presented by Adrian Tinniswood OBE

Despite the castles, crown jewels, and other trappings of monarchy, English royals have many of the same issues as average people. They eat, entertain their friends and worry about money. Henry VIII tripped over his dogs. George II threw his son out of the house. James I had to cut back on his alcohol bills. The great difference, however, was that royal families had much more domestic help—people who ran the machine that is the Royal Household. Everyone, from James I’s Master of the Horse down to William IV’s Assistant Table Decker, was there to smooth the sovereign’s path through life. Even today, Elizabeth II has a staff of 1,200. In his lecture, historian Adrian Tinniswood will uncover the reality of five centuries of life at the English court, taking us on a remarkable journey from one Queen Elizabeth to another. He will reconstruct life behind the throne—telling secret domestic details—and will illustrate the daily lives of both clerks and courtiers, crowned heads and court jesters. Adrian will describe the power struggles and petty rivalries that have historically dominated court politics. He will also talk about the shifting idea of the monarchy today, and how their support network still serves as an interface between sovereign and the public. His witty social history of royal life will offer a tour of England's grandest households while commenting on the ever present tension between the throne room and downstairs.

Adrian Tinniswood OBE studied English and Philosophy at Southampton University and was awarded an MPhil at Leicester University. He has acted as a consultant to the National Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund. He is a Senior Research Fellow in History at the Universuty of Buckingham. He has lectured at several universities in both the United Kingdom and United States, including the University of Oxford and the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of 15 books on architectural and social history including By Permission of Heaven: The True Story of the Great Fire of London, The Verneys, Pirates of Barbary, and The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House Between the Wars. His latest book on which his lecture is based is Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal Household (2018). Tinniswood was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to heritage.


A part of the Royal Oak Foundation's Spring 2019 Lecture Series.

Registration opens 13 February.
St. George’s Society members receive $10 OFF the standard ticket price! Contact us for discount code.

For more information, please call Kayla Smith at 212-480-2889, ext. 201.